What Is Grace?
The essence of theology is grace; the essence of Christian ethics is gratitude.
When we truly understand grace—when we see that God only owes us wrath but has provided Christ’s merit to cover our demerit—then everything changes. The Christian motivation for ethics is not merely to obey some abstract law or a list of rules; rather, our response is provoked by gratitude. Jesus understood that when He said,... Continue Reading
It really is an art to be able to write a 300-400 word devotion that expounds Scripture appropriately, brings Christ and the gospel to bear on the reader, is theologically sound, and at the same time easy and pleasant to read.
The Valley of Vision – Various authors, edited by Arthur Bennett. This has long been one of my favourites. This is a collection of prayers from Puritans and Puritan-minded folks. Prayers are here from Thomas Watson, John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon and many others. My only complaint about this volume is that it doesn’t tell you where... Continue Reading
Refreshed In Chains
Our liberty as children of God is secured not by our circumstances but by our standing in Christ.
Long after Onesimus took the letter, Paul sat in chains knowing that Philemon’s response could refresh his weary spirit. Yes, I know that we look to Christ for comfort and strength—Paul was no stranger to knowing the Lord’s presence to embolden him for the hard road ahead. But isn’t this wonderful? When Paul saw the... Continue Reading
Set Loose in a Mud Pit
God asks us to live in a chaotic and tumultuous world, but to have hearts that are peaceful and calm.
Every day we encounter situations that threaten to rob us of our peace, contexts in which the uproar around us threatens to cause an uproar within. We see people behaving badly and long to respond in kind. We have people turn on us and feel the longing to retaliate. We grieve, we suffer, we face... Continue Reading
God’s Commands are Filtered Through God’s Love
We tend to think of prohibitions as exceptions to love, but all of God’s commands are filtered through His love.
Today, and every day, we will come up against the hard commands of Jesus. And the temptation will be for us to regard Him as ungenerous. As uncaring. As persnickety. Anything but loving. But here is where we come back not to what we think in the moment, but what we know to be true.... Continue Reading
Jordan Peterson: The Last Professor
Quite simply, Peterson refused to use these pronouns—“ze,” “zhe,” “zir,” and so forth.
Jordan Peterson is a professor, a pretty decent professor. He may not be the greatest thinker currently alive in western civilization, but he doesn’t need to be. No professor does. He does what a professor should do: he interrogates assumptions, presents his ideas in a clear and cogent manner, and is a respectful and courteous... Continue Reading
A Reflection on Kindness from Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See
By Christ’s ultimate act of kindness in laying down his life for us on the cross, we are given new life.
Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer-winning novel All the Light We Cannot See promises a story that “illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.” This intricate work of historical fiction delivers on that promise and provides a compelling journey for any reader; but for the Christian, I believe it offers enduring lessons... Continue Reading
The Life We Cannot Live
“I’m so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it.”
How good it is to know that when God looks at you in Christ, he doesn’t see your shabby catalogue of sins and failures—he sees the pristine life of his beloved Son. He doesn’t see your bad temper, but Christ’s perfect patience and love. He doesn’t see your lusts and fantasies but Christ’s perfect purity... Continue Reading
Helpful Things You Can Say to Grieving Parents
It can be awkward to reach out to those who are deep in grief. Here are some helpful phrases.
I recently consulted with a few other parents who have experienced the loss of a child and want to offer a few things you can say to grieving parents that may prove an encouragement to them—a flicker of light in their time of deep darkness. These phrases may be helpful to people experiencing other forms... Continue Reading
What Did the Cross Achieve? Seven Truths and Sixteen Quotes from John Murray
For those who have asked questions about why the cross was needful and what the cross accomplished, Murray provides a great start.
For Christians, knowing what God did in the cross of Christ is vital for understanding our faith. Moreover, if we intend to share the gospel, make disciples, or defend the faith, we need to understand these truths as well, starting with the necessity and the nature of the cross. Therefore, learning why and what the... Continue Reading
With Much Advantage” Deacons’ Conference (Southeast Alabama Presbytery)
Reports on a recent conference for PCA deacons.
Keep in mind that by this time the Jerusalem church probably numbered between fourteen and eighteen thousand. As the church grew, new men were needed to continue doing what the elders had been handling, that is, if the elders were to continue to focus on the Word and prayer. The deacons took up three duties... Continue Reading
Leaders Need To Love
The two directives of love for God and love for our neighbor set the foundation for every aspect of the believer’s life.
Building a healthy and productive environment within an organization absolutely requires the influence and impact of a strong leader, i.e., someone who puts the needs of their team members before their own. When a leader serves in an altruistic, loving way, the leader has the opportunity to build stronger relationships with their team members. It’s... Continue Reading
The Gospel of Wokeness—Part 7
To become “woke” means that your eyes have been opened to see all the privilege and injustice that exists in our world.
Listen closely to American preaching and you will hear it. The church no longer bears witness to the simple message of Christ and him crucified. Rather, churches have added other emphases to their message in an effort to appear as “allies” to the oppressed (e.g., injustice, inequity, abuse, etc.). The good news of the... Continue Reading
You Can Know God
Apologetics isn’t about proving God, but proclaiming the God who can be truly known. And declaring God always succeeds in achieving God’s purpose (2 Cor. 2:14–17).
God makes himself known in the Bible. Scripture is a lot of things, but mostly it is divine autobiography. Sadly, not everyone sees God in Scripture; some see only an ancient religious text. But “when we truly believe in Christ, we recognize our deep dependence on the Word of God as uncontestable wisdom and truth.”... Continue Reading
Have You Cried Before God Lately?
Crying before God in humility and thanksgiving for his many mercies in your life.
I have found crying before God–—whether in confession or simply out of joy and thanksgiving because of his graciousness and mercies over a long period of time–—is salutary. It ends with a sense of genuine peace with God. God deserves our sincere humility before him. A thought came to me that perhaps the Holy Spirit... Continue Reading
Reasons for Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is first and foremost a day which our culture sets aside to count our blessings and to give God thanks.
As we grow in spiritual strength, we increasingly find our real inner satisfaction not in the things of this world but in God. The irony is that when we do that, we begin to enjoy the things of this life in a new way. When we make idols out of the things of this life,... Continue Reading
Presidents and Thanksgiving
Responding to a request from Congress, President George Washington issued our nation’s first Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789.
Finally, presidents have exhorted Americans to individually and collectively give thanks to God. Wilson counseled citizens “to render thanks to God” in their homes and places of worship on Thanksgiving Day. George W. Bush encouraged “Americans to gather in their homes, places of worship, and community centers” to pray and “reinforce ties of family and... Continue Reading
Morality and Freedom
When personal responsibility is divorced from virtue, it is deprived of its guiding principles and moral foundation.
Though some may argue strenuously against any connection between virtue and freedom, all of history is against them. When personal responsibility is divorced from virtue, it is deprived of its guiding principles and moral foundation. Without moral foundations, the freedom to choose will present an opportunity for the selfish one to pursue personal ambition in... Continue Reading
Whatever Happened to Repentance?
We’ve come to think our faith is about comfort. It’s not.
Jesus didn’t come just to save us from the penalty for our sins; He came to save us from our sins—now, today, if we will only respond to the challenge and let Him. A nation of grownup Christians, courageous, confident, humble, and holy, would be more compelling than any smiley-face ad campaign. The Lord does... Continue Reading
An Old Testament Challenge for Today: “We Had A Mind To Work”
There are times people of faith must do the work of proclaiming the Gospel and at the same time defend the Gospel.
It appears they began working with one hand while holding a weapon with the other hand. They both worked and were armed. This is an actual and literal description of physical activity. Sound hermeneutics and exegesis require the passage be interpreted and expressed as literal. It is not intended to be spiritualized…At the same time,... Continue Reading
Why Is the Organ Relevant for Major League Baseball and Irrelevant for Local Churches?
The organ as a single instrument is far superior than the modern praise band.
If relevance is based on cultural trends rather than congregational engagement—it’s easy to see how the organ can get pushed out the back door. However, if relevance is based on congregational engagement—the organ will beat out all other instrumental choices hands down. Recently, my children and I watched the Atlanta Braves take on the... Continue Reading
Reckoning with Tech
As communication technologies continue to shape and reshape the world, McLuhan’s words are worth revisiting.
McLuhan’s darker pessimistic side gave him reservations about where our great global hookup was taking us. In his mind there were two possible destinations: Christ, or chaos. Toward the end of his life he contemplated how the Apocalypse might reckon with our new lightspeed visual technologies where new tribal chieftains would replace democratic-oriented politicians. ... Continue Reading
The Sin of Marxism—Part 6
The Cultural Marxist has a doctrine of original or inherited sin, and it is summed up in the single word: Privilege.
Our culture was built by straight wealthy men of European descent, and it therefore worked best for them. That, according to the Cultural Marxist, identifies them the oppressor class. Privilege is their doctrine of sin and, just like any other religion, the Neo-Marxists are happy to offer the penitent hope. The call it getting “woke.”... Continue Reading
A Definite Atonement: John Murray’s Case for a Disputed Doctrine
A biblical-theological approach (not a proof-texting approach) to this doctrine is needed.
The extent of the atonement should be determined by faithful readings of the Bible—thick readings, if you will, as opposed to thin readings of Scripture. Murray does that well, and all those who take up this doctrinal debate should read him and follow his exegetical method. For whom did Christ die? For all nations... Continue Reading
4 Causes of Deconstruction
Deconstruction is poison, not medicine. It supplements the sin that’s killing you, rather than healing it.
Ministering in the age of deconstruction will likely involve attentiveness in conversation, sensitivity to the Spirit, and the risk of investment—knowing the person might end up bailing anyway. Good doctors take time with their patients, and as ministers of the gospel we must too. Deconstruction is a symptom, not the root cause. A proper... Continue Reading
Faith or Presumption?
Do I have genuine faith, or am I wrongly presuming that my faith is genuine?
The sinister and terrifying reality of self-deception, fueled by presumption, is a present danger for all of us in these polarized days. Since faith and presumption have similar qualities and self-deception is notoriously hard to recognize, how can we know if we’re living with genuine faith instead of presumption? In Marilynne Robinson’s beautiful novel, Jack,... Continue Reading
Reforming a False Dichotomy: Worship and the Word
The Word of God should regulate, provide, and inform the elements, shape, and substance of corporate worship.
God’s people must take care in how they worship God, for he has said, “Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified” (Lev 10:3). May we be found faithful. Communicators, especially those within the evangelical community, love to use alliteration. It can be... Continue Reading
The Glorious, Wonderful, and Overwhelming Opportunities of Christ
Christ relentlessly committed every thought, every word, and every deed he did to the glory of God the Father.
Christ Jesus always fulfilled every moment with exactly who he was supposed to be, conducting himself in a manner worthy of God’s admiration. What a glorious, wonderful, and overwhelming reality, that Christ was all he could be and should be in every moment. This isn’t really a “post” per say. This isn’t a thesis delivered... Continue Reading
Victory That Lasts
Sexual lust, even for those awake to their consciences, is often the tiger one wishes to leash but not kill.
As sure as lust distorts the world, purity reenchants it. As lust dims beauty and hides God’s face in night; purity cleanses our vision and dawns day upon the face of Christ for us to behold him. Our eyes cannot serve two masters. The racing heart, the watering eyes, the abrupt disinterest withering the... Continue Reading
We Are Not Germs: The Case for Human Dignity
To confess that God is Creator is to confess that we are not cosmic accidents, devoid of ultimate value.
If our human dignity is given by God and that is recognized by our culture, then we have fundamental human rights that inform how we treat other people under the law and even one-on-one at the personal level. Several years ago, the mother of a college student came to me wringing her hands, saying:... Continue Reading